In honor of January being National Mentoring Month, I thought I'd honor the man who mentors my children the best — their Dad. If you grew up with a Dad like I did whose idea of fixing anything was picking up the phone and calling someone to do it, it's amazing when the father of your children is the Mr. Fix-It Dad. Why? Because he is able to teach our kids how to do everything from repairing broken closet shelves to fixing that leaky kitchen faucet. Here's how you can be the Mr. Fix-It Dad mentor too:
Patience is key
As a mentor, it's important to be extremely patient with a mentee. After all, it took you a while to learn your craft, and if you really want to teach someone how to do something, you need to be very flexible and:
- wait for the kids to approach you
- don't force them to help
- if they want to try to do something their way first, let them!
Technology is good
In today's technology-driven world, some of the old ways you probably did things may not work anymore. That's why if you really want to show off a skill you have (figuring out why the computer crashed to building a table you've designed), it's equally important that you are using technology that your mentee can relate to. Is there a product out there that will make the task easier or take less time? For example, while you might have learned to make a table by using a hand-held saw, power tools will let you cut that same piece of wood in a fraction of the time. And remember, if there's something that stumps you with all the new technology out there, you can probably find an online tutorial or video that will explain how to do it. Since most kids today relate to anything that's on video, it's a win-win situation for both of you.
Safety is equally important
Technology has made our lives easier, but using all these new tools may require some caution on your part as you not only learn how to use that new power tool but also teach someone else to use it. If you're trying to teach your kids how to use new equipment, make sure they are learning to be as careful as you are. It's always a good idea to point out anything that might crop up as a future safety issue, too. (And don't be dismayed if the person you're trying to mentor keeps saying, "I know, I know!")
Silence is golden
As a mentor, talking about what you're doing is obviously a big part of the mentoring process. But sometimes less talk and more visual instruction is more beneficial to your mentee, especially if you're showing a younger person how to do something. Occasionally, my own Mr. Fix-It Dad just simply shows the kids what he is doing and remains very, very quiet while he is working. Once I found him teaching our son how to paint a wall simply by helping him hold the brush. Not a single drop of paint hit the hardwood floor! That exercise didn't need any words — just a good paintbrush and a steady hand!